This underwhelming exploration into the roots of modern yoga is ruined but its host's irksome naivety.
Boasting exclusive interviews involving some of yoga’s most legendary names and claims to show extremely rare historical footage of the practice, one could easily believe Breath Of The Gods to have been made by a learned yoga scholar.
But you'd be wrong. Filmmaker Jan Schmidt-Garre has made it his personal mission to locate the origins of authentic yoga, although he seems to know very little about it in advance. In fairness, he doesn't hide this. How could he? And yet, what could one hope to gain from a film which offers such a naive perspective on the topic?
The answer is, alas, very little. Instead we find ourselves befuddled at the hands of over-stated, drawn-out theatrical representations of historical events, dodgy digital ageing effects and a bombastic operatic score.
Breath Of The Gods is somewhere between an instructional video into the basics of yoga and a brief historical account of yoga starting in 1930s India. On the surface it seems to emulate the very lifestyle that yoga seeks to advocate, with it's slow and steady pace and sustained moments of reflection.
In reality, however, it a confusing medley of minor events that lead nowhere in particular. It offers a frivolous meander through the mysterious world of yoga that will only really appeal to those who already have a vested interest in the subject.
Difficulty persists further with the introduction of entirely unnecessary characters which then prompts such questions as, "Why the hell are we watching Jan take a yoga class?" Some of the avenues Schmidt-Garre explores are embarrassingly juvenile too.
As a film, it offers very little on which to contemplate, so frustration will set in for most pertinent questions of integrity and value regarding the piece on the whole.
It's saving grace is that it is charged with charisma that pours from any great teacher who has dedicated his life to an art – BKS Iyengar and TK Sribhashyam to name a couple that appear here. You just may want to keep your finger near that FF button.
Rare footage and Great Masters you say...?
BKS Iyengar is an engaging, fiercely honest human being.
Your time would be better spent taking a yoga class.